Empower Design co-designs and builds electrical generating devices and combines them for microgrid development. These electricity systems meet human development needs. The United Nations Development Program defines human development broadly in terms of education, health, and economics. We are not an AID organization, but a research and development (R&D) project which focuses on researching the local human development needs which can be addressed with electricity and then moves to developing an electrical design for that purpose given the community-based constraints.
Many countries are below the average base power of 50 Watts/capita (less than an incandescent light bulb!). They could easily design and build their own electricity generating devices for schools, hospitals, health centers, businesses, and homes (see physics curriculum). Why is everything imported at a higher cost and many times with an inability to repair the devices (see business curriculum)? If US residents cannot afford solar panels, then why are Africans being marketed them (see our workshop curriculum and ask about our certification plans)? If we are committed to solar panels, then why not hybridize them with other electricity systems for cloudy days?
Empower Design's mission is to empower communities to research and develop electricity solutions for their hospitals, schools, and businesses which suffer greatly either due to (1) unavailability or (2) unreliability of electricity. Empower Design seeks to put knowledge first and resources, if needed, into the hands of those who are working locally and thus all funded work is used to research these issues and develop designs. We plan to build microgrids throughout Africa and bypass the outdated 20th century grid for a sustainable 21st century interconnected set of microgrids.
All administrative duties are volunteer.
Community-based electricity micro-projects build strong foundations for generating sustainable growth in education, health, and economic viability. The motivation for integrating human development and electricity comes from understanding the exponential relationship between UNDP's human development index (HDI) and electricity consumption (kWh/capita)
Developing Countries Electricity Situation
Human development and electrical energy co-exist seamlessly in high HDI countries where reliability and availability is greater than 99%. In numerous low HDI countries , there is 2-50% electric grid availability with reliability at or below 50% due to load shedding and faults. Moreover, countries with total average electrical power consumed of 20 W/capita or less (see image below) can be directly affected by electrical human power generation (see Human Power link).
Unavailability vs Reliability Electricty: To have electricity is to have vaccines and retro-viral medications safely stored in a refrigerator and to have lights during surgery (theatre). To have electricity is to have cell phones connect businesses which previously were not connected. To have electricity is to have lights at night for studying or to have computers and copy machines for curriculum development and enhancement. However, it is not enough to have availability; there must also be reliability. The image below is a map illustrating UNDP's electrification rate.
The countries which are in red and pink have electrification rates either below 25% or 50%, respectively. In these places where so few people have electricity available, they typically use diesel and/or gasoline (petrol) generators and/or solar panels; however these are too expensive for the majority of people. The goal of Empower Design is to design multiple electricity generating devices which are much cheaper than fossil fuel generators and solar panels as well as make sure these devices can be locally maintained by using only locally available materials. Currently, we are working with technical schools to build the devices and universities to create markets for the devices. This new synenergy has the potential to create development, but it will take time and energy... so stay tuned and join the community if you are interested. We look forward to getting to know you.